Post 179: 1 September 2017.
I met Victoria at York station at 10pm. She had just flown from Munich to Manchester and then caught the train to York.
The concept of an 8 days introduction to Yorkshire (God’s Own County) had started back in September 2016, when I had happened by chance to meet Victoria from Germany at Pwll Deri Youth Hostel, near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire.
The views from the hostel were stunning.
Two of my former University friends were volunteer wardens at the hostel and persuaded me to join them as a guest and Victoria was visiting there from Germany. She clearly had a love of walking, especially in England, having already walked in parts of the Land’s End peninsula, where I had lived for four years and spent holidays over many years. One of my favourite areas.
Whilst we were talking over ‘wine and fresh crab’ about the best places to visit in England, I suggested that she should try the Lake District and/or York and Yorkshire.
Several months later she indicated that she had decided to visit York and Yorkshire. A good choice, although I am a little biased!
Having encouraged her to visit Yorkshire, I felt that I must make her visit as enjoyable as possible. Not least because York had been voted the friendliest City in the UK and there was a reputation to uphold!
It then occurred to me that I could work out a plan to try and condense the best of my 31 years of walking in Yorkshire into 8 days (excluding arrival and departure days). Like many of my plans they start as a small idea, often in the middle of the night (my brain seems to be more creative then!), and then metamorphose into something else.
43 of the 52 long-distance walks I have completed were in or went through Yorkshire. I am still discovering new paths, new gems, new routes and new vistas. The problem was what to leave out, not just what to include. It is inevitable I would only scratch the surface of walks available.
Little did Victoria know that her feet would hardly touch the ground, apart from the walking that is, after arriving in York at 10pm. I have plans to wake her up at just after 7 am next morning to head out to the Yorkshire Dales. Not everyone’s idea of a holiday, but then she was an enthusiastic walker and the best time of the day is early in the morning! She had made the mistake of saying walking was her priority!
I aim to include walks in the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Yorkshire Wolds and the East Coast, but also to include a walk around York and if wet around the European City of Culture 2017 – Hull. A trip on the North York Moors Heritage Railway was also essential, not least to see the moors from the train. After the train journey a coast walk near Whitby would also be good too. It was also necessary to include what James Herriot said was the finest view in England from Sutton Bank (he was wrong, but that is another matter) and to include the amazing view of heather from my adopted trig point at Rollgate Bank, Pockley near Helmsley, where eventually I will ‘end up’ permanently. Victoria had specifically asked to see heather as it is in short supply in Germany.
In addition, I wanted to include the historical side of York, e.g. top and basement of York Minster, walk around the medieval walls, walk to the Millennium Bridge. Everyone has invaded York, the Vikings, Romans, Normans and Anglo Saxons. Now we are invaded by tourists, which is much more pleasant. There is also Betty’s, Rowntree Park and/or Mannion’s cafes to consider. Also to be included were Rievaulx and Whitby Abbey’s and the lesser known Chapel at Scotch Corner (near Sutton Bank), which is the inspiration behind a marvellous book, The Plot – A Biography of an English Acre.
Late in the day one of my friends, who is volunteering at Slaidburn Youth Hostel, invited us over to the hostel and the Hodder Valley Agricultural Show on Saturday 9th September. I had planned to walk around the Three Peaks area around Pen-y-ghent and The Riblehead Viaduct. There is nothing like friends to upset plans, but what was worse it would mean leaving Yorkshire and going into Lancashire! However, not to be inhospitable as he had come all the way from Siberia (also known as Suffolk), I decided we might be able to fit both in, although it would be a long day with an early start and late finish. Sunset at the Ribblehead Viaduct?
I decided that straight away a walk around Malham Cove was essential. It is one of the iconic geological features of Yorkshire. Now being a bit of a geek at school I will insert below an extract from one of my three school prizes (I chose books on chess, transport and geography, all of which I still have! How geeky is that! Non of this Harry Potter stuff then). The World Transport book prize was published in 1963 and although describing future space travel, man did not land on the moon until 20 July 1969 at 20:18. How exciting is that!
I never did get to the moon and the nearest I got to it was seeing and photographing it rolling down a hill at about 6.00am in Flam, Norway.
You can tell I was a geek as the last prize was awarded in 1967-68 for O-levels and I chose The Principles of Physical Geography by F.J. Monkhouse. I had A -level Geography to come.
Of Malham Cove it says:
‘It usually happens that faulting brings rocks of differing resistance into close juxtaposition, so that differential denudation will emphasis the line of the fault, forming a fault-line scarp. Thus to north of the Mid-Craven Fault in the Malham district of Yorkshire is an extensive plateau of Carboniferous Limestone. To the south this has been down-faulted some thousands of feet, so that the surface rocks consist of less resistant Bowland Shales. Denudation has caused the line of the fault to stand out as a series of ‘scars’ – Gigglewick and Attermire Scars, Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.’
With prose like that available to use, no wonder Geography was my favourite subject at school and I got grade 1 at O-level and an A at A-level.
E M Forster said in Howard’s End ‘Only connect the prose and the passion………’. I had the prose and the passion would come later.
Thinking I would have to become a teacher if I studied geography at University (careers advice was non-existent then), I chose another degree subject and career path and have been passionate about walking, geography, photography and landscapes in my spare time since. A sort of ‘frustrated geographer’.
My geography teacher Mr White was nicknamed ‘Chalky White’ and I didn’t want to end up as a teacher with a silly nickname such as Mountain Maughan. However, in 2000 for the Millennium, I did end up in the newspapers as Mountain Man, but it was all in a good cause!
At Malham Cove we would also see some of the best examples of grikes and clints in the world at the top of the cove.
We might even see the Peregrine Falcons that reside there. What could be more exciting? Peregrines are renowned for their speed , reaching over 320km per hour (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. It would be essential to take my binoculars, an excellent retirement present from my colleagues at the University of York.
Malham Cove is a bit touristy now, but fortunately school holidays are nearly over and so hopefully most people will be spending the weekend doing last minute preparation for the return to school? Wishing thinking as a sunny day is forecast?
However, with an hour and a half hour drive to get there an early start would be good and the alarm clock is set to go off at 7.00 am (this was put back from 6.00am after negotiations worthy of BREXIT). I will wake Victoria soon after. Not sure how I will break the news to her at 10pm after a long journey from Germany. She can always have a snooze in the car!
My wife of nearly 44 years (see 3rd September post to come – yes I have remembered! ) quickly learnt in our marriage to avoid such early excursions so that she could have a lie in. Poor Victoria hasn’t a chance.
The good news is that, on reaching the top of Malham Cove, I will pass 700 miles of the Country Walking Magazine 1,000 Mile 2017 Challenge. Only 300 more miles to go by 31 December 2017. ‘Boots on’ only miles being counted.
Future posts on the 8 day Tour de Yorkshire may be delayed as I am likely to be quite busy…………………………..